Is it possible to eat healthy on a food stamps budget?

junk food vs healthy food - eating healthy on a budget

We know: it’s a triple whammy. When you’re on a food stamp budget you’re not just hurting for money, you’re hurting for time (how many low-wage hours are you working?) and fresh food access (how many miles to the nearest grocery store?).

And you’re tired. And stressed. And thanks to all that, you’re probably sick.

So all the New Year’s resolutions or summer diet plans about cutting down on empty carbs and junk food and taking the time to cook healthy meals may simply seem beyond your ability. Changing eating habits is hard enough, but committing to eating healthy year-round without ready access to nutritious and affordable food is simply too tall a task for too many.

Which is why Just Harvest is working to bring fresh food options to more low-income neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh area.

We’ve been steadily expanding our Fresh Access program since we launched it in 2013. It now handles electronic food stamps transactions for roughly 100 local farmers and vendors at 21 farmers market locations around Allegheny County from May through November of every year.

And our Fresh Corners program is working to create healthy corner stores in area food deserts!

In the meantime, know that you’re not alone in this struggle. One of our readers, Susan Sluka Taylor, has these words to share:

Sadly, the healthier you eat and try to avoid pesticides, the more expensive it is. If you live in an area that has a wealthy demographic nearby, then the store prices food for that income bracket. If you live in an area that has a low-income demographic, then there are probably less healthy food choices available.

So you find a compromise: you eat less, but better. Quality vs. Quantity. You ask yourself if every dollar you spend on food is a gift to your body or a poison and not serving you.

Then there’s the occasional mis-categorizing of a food, probably due to horrid SNAP guidelines not allowing some foods like fresh basil or protein powder to be bought because it is considered a plant and a vitamin supplement, which for some reason are not allowed..? I guess you’re just supposed to eat prepared, canned, boxed, dead food.

Too bad you can’t buy a hot lunch on your 1/2 hour lunch break at work, another stipulation. So soup and a salad is out, but you can buy an Amy’s frozen and microwave it.

The best you can do is try to stay away from processed foods and buy fresh produce sparingly and often so it doesn’t go bad and waste your preciously small monthly budget. Buy your bulk staples that keep like brown rice and pasta.

But of course healthy veggies and fruit daily takes more trips to the store which costs money too. Oh, well, what else can you do?

Thank God for SNAP participating farmers markets in various areas!”

Good and Cheap: East Well on $4/DayShopping for healthy food is certainly a challenge in itself. These articles might help:
>> 10 Smart Tips for Eating Healthy on a Super Tight Budget
>>A Cheap and Lean Grocery Shopping List On A Budget

Perhaps you’ve already conquered the battle of finding quality fresh food at affordable prices, but you’re at a loss as to how to transform that food into meals?

If you’re in need of some recipes for yummy ways to get full while eating healthy on a food stamps budget, the Good and Cheap cookbook may help. You can get it here.

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